Arctic Man blasts off this week

FAIRBANKS,AK-The 2013 Tesoro Arctic Man gets underway this week. The 28th edition of Arctic Man is going down by Hoodoo Mountains along the Richardson Highway in the Summit Lake area of the 49th state. Practice for the 53 two member teams starts tomorrow.

Everything looks promising for the real race slated for Friday at 11 am. The course has received the most snow in about 20 years according to race director Howard Thies. There is about 20 to 30 feet of snow on the course and about 17 more feet in the parking lot area.

The favorites for this year's competition is the team of Marco Sullivan and Tyler Acklestad. Sullivan and Acklestad are the defending champs and have won three out of the last five Arctic Mans including the last two. Other teams that could win this race are Eric Heil and Len Story as well as Scott MacCartney and Tyson Johnson. They are the only two teams who have won the Arctic Man in the last 5 years breaking up what could have been a five peat for Sullivan and Acklestad.

A nice change to this year's event is the adaptive class for skiers who are handicapped. They will race with a chair-ski setup and it's the first year they will compete for their own title and prize money.

The race itself has the ski and snowmaching athletes trying their hand at racing down from a 5,800-foot summit, and then at about 1,700 feet of elevation after going more than two miles, attach themselves to a snowmachiner in motion. The snowmachiner then takes the skier uphill for two and a quarter miles and releases the skier at the top of a second hill for a 1,200-foot ski to the finish.

We caught up with race director Howard Thies, the first Arctic Man winner, and I asked him what is about Arctic Man that makes it stand out from other Alaskan sporting events?

"I have no idea Joe. I mean I have no idea. All I know is that it's a spring break for everybody for everybody to enjoy. And plus we have a lot of snow on our dives this year too. And plus we have some huge competition right now. I got 29 mens ski teams and the top 15 it's gonna be hard to pick who can win it," Thies said.

This also mentioned that this year's event will get national media coverage.

Thies explained, "National Travel Channel will be there. The Travel Channel will put on a national show so our event will be shown nationally here I think 6 months after the event. So it's exciting. Good for the state of Alaska and good for the people to come."

"Now be safe, that's my biggest thing you know safety is a very important aspect of our bottom line and hopefully everyone else's as well."